Thymosin β4 and prothymosin α promote cardiac regeneration post-ischaemic injury in mice

Monika M Gladka, Anne Katrine Z Johansen, Sebastiaan J van Kampen, Marijn M C Peters, Bas Molenaar, Danielle Versteeg, Lieneke Kooijman, Lorena Zentilin, Mauro Giacca, Eva van Rooij

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


AIMS: The adult mammalian heart is a post-mitotic organ. Even in response to necrotic injuries, where regeneration would be essential to reinstate cardiac structure and function, only a minor percentage of cardiomyocytes undergo cytokinesis. The gene programme that promotes cell division within this population of cardiomyocytes is not fully understood. In this study, we aimed to determine the gene expression profile of proliferating adult cardiomyocytes in the mammalian heart after myocardial ischaemia, to identify factors to can promote cardiac regeneration.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Here, we demonstrate increased 5-ethynyl-2'deoxyuridine incorporation in cardiomyocytes 3 days post-myocardial infarction in mice. By applying multi-colour lineage tracing, we show that this is paralleled by clonal expansion of cardiomyocytes in the borderzone of the infarcted tissue. Bioinformatic analysis of single-cell RNA sequencing data from cardiomyocytes at 3 days post ischaemic injury revealed a distinct transcriptional profile in cardiomyocytes expressing cell cycle markers. Combinatorial overexpression of the enriched genes within this population in neonatal rat cardiomyocytes and mice at postnatal day 12 (P12) unveiled key genes that promoted increased cardiomyocyte proliferation. Therapeutic delivery of these gene cocktails into the myocardial wall after ischaemic injury demonstrated that a combination of thymosin beta 4 (TMSB4) and prothymosin alpha (PTMA) provide a permissive environment for cardiomyocyte proliferation and thereby attenuated cardiac dysfunction.

CONCLUSION: This study reveals the transcriptional profile of proliferating cardiomyocytes in the ischaemic heart and shows that overexpression of the two identified factors, TMSB4 and PTMA, can promote cardiac regeneration. This work indicates that in addition to activating cardiomyocyte proliferation, a supportive environment is a key for regeneration to occur.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)802-812
Number of pages11
JournalCardiovascular Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 02 May 2023


  • Mice
  • Animals
  • Rats
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Heart/physiology
  • Myocytes, Cardiac/metabolism
  • Heart Injuries/metabolism
  • Thymosin/genetics
  • Regeneration
  • Mammals


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